Virginia Democrats Defend Northam’s ‘Emergency’ Gun Ban in Court

Radical Democrats claim they wish to avoid repeat of Charlottesville violence with gun ban…

The Virginia state Capitol building is surrounded by fencing. / Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP

(Liberty Headlines) Virginia‘s Democratic lawmakers urged the state Supreme Court on Friday to uphold a weapons ban at an upcoming gun rally in the capital, claiming it was necessary to prevent a repeat of deadly violence that erupted at a white nationalist rally more than two years ago.

State Attorney General Mark Herring‘s petition—and simultaneous legal efforts by gun-rights groups to lift the ban—came amid the arrest of six men whom authorities alleged were linked to a white supremacist group known as The Base.

At least three of them were planning to attend the pro-gun rally on Monday in Richmond, according to an official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss an active investigation.

In his legal brief to the Supreme Court, Herring called Gov. Ralph Northam‘s executive order banning guns from the Capitol grounds “a carefully limited Executive Order” that “does not prevent anyone from speaking, assembling, or petitioning the government.”

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“Instead, it temporarily precludes private possession of firearms in a sensitive public place during a specified time to protect public safety,” the brief says.

Herring claimed Northam’s order would help prevent the kind of violence that erupted at a 2017 white nationalist rally in the city of Charlottesville although the only reported instance of a gun threat during that demonstration came from a rifle-wielding University of North Carolina instructor with ties to the far-left Antifa. Other violence at the Charlottesville protests included leftists hurling projectiles and attacking right-wing demonstrators with improvised flame-throwers.

Notwithstanding, the lack of gun violence in Charlottesville, one woman was killed and more than 30 others were hurt when a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd. No one was wounded by gunfire at the rally.

A circuit court judge on Thursday upheld Northam’s ban after gun-rights groups filed a lawsuit against it, arguing that it would violate their Second Amendment right to bear arms and their First Amendment freedom of speech.

Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League—the group sponsoring the rally—called the judge’s ruling “mind-boggling.”

The Defense League and the organization Gun Owners of America immediately filed an appeal of the ruling to the Supreme Court. It was not clear when the high court would rule.

Northam’s ban went into effect at 5 p.m. Friday and was scheduled to remain in effect through Tuesday afternoon.

In imposing the ban Wednesday, the governor said law enforcement officials had found credible threats that the rally on Monday—Martin Luther King Jr. Day—could include “armed militia groups storming our Capitol.”

Virginia’s solicitor general, Toby Heytens, told Richmond Circuit Court Judge Joi Taylor on Thursday that law enforcement had identified “credible evidence” armed out-of-state groups planned to come to Virginia with the possible intention of participating in a “violent insurrection.”

Friday’s developments unfolded on Lee–Jackson Day, a state holiday honoring Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

Legislation proposed this year and supported by Northam would scrap the holiday. Northam also has proposed tearing down many of the Confederate monuments in the state, which was the seat of the Confederacy and saw much of the Civil War’s conflict.

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Ralph Northam’s 1984 medical school yearbook

The Charlottesville protest sprung from efforts by the city to illegally remove two such monuments. However, after Northam faced a scandal involving his own past racist history, he struck a bargain with Wes Bellamy, the homophobic and misogynist black-liberation activist who had engineered those efforts on Charlottesville’s City Council.

In return for the support of Bellamy and a group called the Virginia Black Politicos, Northam agreed to a laundry list of radical leftist demands, most of which he has proceeded to fulfill since Democrats in November gained control of the state legislature for the first time in two decades.

But Virginia citizens have pushed back on some of the extreme proposals, including Northam’s gun-confiscation plans. A majority of the counties in the commonwealth have now passed resolutions declaring themselves 2nd-Amendment sanctuaries in defiance of any proposed legislation.

Northam and Herring have responded by earmarking a quarter-million dollars of the state’s budget surplus to apply toward added “correctional” costs to jail those who attempt civil disobedience.

As state officials and gun-rights groups battle over the ban in court, a package of gun-control bills is moving through the legislature, which is now in Democratic control.

The Senate on Thursday passed legislation limiting handgun purchases to once a month, requiring universal background checks on gun purchases, and allowing localities to ban guns in public buildings, parks and other areas. The bill was passed along partisan lines. It will now go to the House for consideration.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press